Millennials are the most connected generation in history. But their ease with online technology and their propensity for sharing information on the Internet have led them to engage in risky online behavior, according to a new study by the defense contractor Raytheon. The survey found that young adults, age 18-26, are playing fast and loose with their online security:
- 66% have connected to a no password required WiFi hotspot in the past month.
- 48% have plugged in a portable storage device given to them by someone else in the past three months.
- 23% have shared an online password with a non-family member in the past year.
- 20% have never changed the password for their online banking account.
Millennials Make the Most Mobile Connections
There’s no question that the “always-on” generation has redefined how to connect with family, friends and colleagues. The average Millennial lives a mobile life, sending 20 texts per day.
- 84% use social media.
- 41% have yanked out their landlines, relying solely on their mobile phones to communicate.
- 80% sleep with their phones next to their beds.
- 75% have their mobile phones glued to their hand as their shopping assistant when they shop in-store.
College Students Are Most At Risk For Identity Theft
That need for connectivity, socializing and consuming media content has led Nielsen to dub Millennials “Gen C.” But if recent studies are any indication, young adults might more aptly be called “Gen I” – for identity theft. According to the Chicago Better Business Bureau, college students raised in the Facebook generation are the most at risk group for identity theft because of their frequent use of smartphones and social media. Their personal information can also be stolen through public WiFi connections which are commonly found on college campuses.
Compounding the problem: College students often don’t have a credit history which means their credit is a clean slate for identity thieves. Another reason students are top targets: They don’t regularly check their credit reports. So identity theft can go undetected – sometimes for years. The Better Business Bureau says identity theft isn’t just committed by cyber crooks in foreign countries. “Friendly fraud” accounts for more than 20% of all identity theft crimes on college campuses. Friends, roommates and classmates are potential scammers.
Yet according to the Raytheon study, young adults aren’t that concerned about the threat of identity theft or the threat of having their personal information stolen. That’s unfortunate because, according to the Federal Trade Commission, Millennials fall within the age group that accounted for one out of every five identity theft complaints last year.
Make sure the next one isn’t you. Protect your personal information on and off campus. Your online security depends on it.
Don’t Lose Your Identity At College
- Make passwords long and strong by combining upper and lower case letters with numbers and symbols.
- Use separate passwords for every account to deter hackers.
- Secure your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for sharing information.
- Never leave your laptop or your mobile devices unattended.
- Delete emails that look suspicious.
- Protect your financial transactions: When banking and shopping online, make sure the sites you visit are secure. Look for web addresses with https.
- Think before you connect to WiFi hotspots: Use a virtual private network to encrypt the information traveling to and from your devices. ChaCha recommends our VPN, PRIVATE WiFi, as one of the Top 20 tech gadgets for college students.